Ana Viseu on Wed, 28 Nov 2001 01:36:40 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> the uk profiles children

[The UK is implementing a new database program that will be used to
monitor (i.e., keep under surveillance) children who MAY become criminals.
The idea is to 'identify' children that exhibit criminal potential (for
example, answer back to an adult) and then keep an eye on them (with the
help of something similar to squads composed of police and community
workers). The police acknowledges that the database will contain sensitive
information and that many of these children "have noy yet and probably
will not actually drift into active criminality", but still thinks this is
a good measure.

In practical terms what this means is that by the time they reach their
voting age these citizens will have massive files stored in a police
database. And since legislation in the UK regarding privacy is very lax,
this is a dangerous measure... Ana]

Keeping a Who's-Naughty List

By Julia Scheeres

Nov. 27, 2001

London police are planning to register children who exhibit criminal
potential in an effort to prevent them from developing into full-fledged

Kids who tag buildings with graffiti, skip school, or even talk back to
adults run the risk of being entered into a database program that will be
used to monitor their behavior as they grow up, according to police

Law enforcement officials say the measure is needed to combat rampant
juvenile crime, but critics condemn it as an extreme form of police

The plan was unveiled earlier this month in a speech by Ian Blair,
London's deputy police commissioner, to the Youth Justice Board, the
government agency that supervises Great Britain's juvenile justice system.

Teachers, social workers, health care professionals, law enforcement
agents and other authorities who have contact with troublemakers will
contribute information to the database program, which will be rolled out
in 11 London boroughs before being implemented nationally, according to a
copy of the speech. Special squads formed by police and community workers
will supervise the actions and behavior of children included in the

"With partners in those boroughs, we intend to create an intelligence
nexus, which will hold sensitive information about large numbers of
children, many of whom have not yet and probably will not actually drift
into active criminality. This is pretty revolutionary stuff," Blair said.

The deputy police commissioner said the registry was needed to combat a
jump in juvenile delinquency. While most crime indicators have dropped in
Great Britain, street crimes committed by children have skyrocketed,
according to government data. Between 50 and 75 percent of the muggings
that occurred on London's streets in the first nine months of this year
were perpetrated by minors, studies show.

Local authorities will use the database to identify underlying causes of
children's bad behavior and recommend therapy or substance abuse treatment

"In this process, we have every intention of using intensive surveillance
and supervision programs," Blair said.

Asked for a comment on the program, a spokeswoman from the Youth Justice
Board e-mailed the following statement to Wired News:

"The Youth Justice Board is supportive of the idea of increasing
information sharing in respect of young people at risk of becoming
involved in criminality, and we will be joining with the Met Police to
look at ways this can be achieved."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman refused to discuss further details of the
plan, saying it was still in an exploratory stage.

Privacy concerns aren't expected to derail the effort. In his speech,
Blair said that Section 115 of the country's Crime and Disorder Act, which
allows for disclosure of private information to investigate crimes, may
override the Data Protection Act, which regulates information-sharing
among government agencies.

But the director of Privacy International, Simon Davies, said the
registries were tantamount to police "profiling gone mad."

"I shudder to think of the action that could be taken by authorities with
such a database," Davies said. "All I can see coming out of this is
greater criminalization of children and heightened discrimination against
certain racial groups."

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Tudo vale a pena se a alma não é pequena.
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